(Karyn Regal/WBZ NewsRadio1030)
METHUEN (WBZ NewsRadio) — In Methuen, where roughly half the city's police force is at risk of being laid off, Mayor Jim Jajuga says a windfall deal for the department's top cops is now off the table.
The mayor is ripping up not only a contract negotiated by his own predecessor, but also his own compromise deal with the Superior Officers Union that was reached after the new contract—which paid captains and above more than $400,000 a year—caused outrage and a fiscal crisis.
City Councilors have been wary of freeing up any of the money they pulled from the police budget after finding out about that deal.
Mayor Jajuga decided to reset the salaries to the level of the previous contract—a move made possible by an Inspector General's report calling the recent agreement illegal.
The mayor's Chief of Staff, Paul Fahey, told WBZ NewsRadio's Kendall Buhl that the mayor's decision should appease the City Council.
"We're hopeful that with this change from the Mayor's Office, with this decision to roll back to the previous contract, that that will break the logjam and we'll get the approval we need to move forward," he said.
Fahey said it remains to be seen now what the officers belonging to the Superior Officers Union will do.
"We're hopeful that the Superior Union will come back to the table and renegotiate, particularly given some of the concerns that were raised by the Inspector General in his report last week, but we're also preparing for the possibility of litigation from them as well," he said.
Of a more pressing concern is keeping the rank and file on the job. Some 50 pink slips have been handed out , and the City Council Monday night put off reinstating $1.5 million needed to keep those officers on the job.
The city stands to lose half its force when current funding runs dry in just a few weeks' time.
WBZ NewsRadio's Kendall Buhl ( @KBuhlWBZ ) reports